THE move to level 4 of the lockdown, which includes a ban on alcohol sales, announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday, has sent jitters through the agricultural sector.
Grain SA chief executive Jannie de Villiers said yesterday the alcohol ban would negatively impact the demand for barley used to brew beer.
“Farmers cannot stop the production each time there is an alcohol ban. The plants keep on growing. These bans also impact the crop rotation systems on the farms, which is very critical for soil and plant health management,” said De Villiers.
Agri SA executive director Christo van der Rheede said Agri SA was seriously concerned about the impact of the ban on the sale of alcohol on the wine and the broader alcoholic beverage industry.
The economic impact of the regulations on restaurants, the tourism sector and other sectors, such as the game industry, would aggravate the situation, he said.
Van der Rheede asked where were the aid packages to support the wine, broader alcoholic beverage, restaurant and tourism industries, which have suffered great losses during the previous alcohol bans.
Agri SA said it was seeking clarity on the regulation stating that “gatherings at auctions are not permitted”. It wanted to know whether this meant that auctions may take place, but people may not gather together, said Van der Rheede.
“Does it refer to all auctions, including auctions of property and other assets, as well as farm auctions? The fact that agriculture was declared an essential service requires that livestock auctions should continue. What about livestock auctions that have already been scheduled?”
Agri SA wanted to know how practical it would be to hold auctions when the presence of people was restricted, as auctions were vital to the survival of the livestock industry.
Van der Rheede said the further pressure would pose particular risks for the livestock industry, consumers and the availability of meat products. Where possible, auctions would now have to be held virtually to continue meeting the demand for livestock.
“What effect will the restrictions on gatherings at auctions in rural areas have, especially for commercial and emerging farmers and the communities who are dependent on these farmers for their meat?”
The South African Liquor Brandowners Association, the Beer Association of South Africa, Vinpro, the Liquor Traders Association of South Africa, National Liquor Traders and the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa have submitted to the government that the total ban on alcohol sales would spur the growth of illicit trade, which has grown from 12 to 22 percent of the overall alcohol market by volume.
The Consumer Goods Council warned yesterday that the alcohol ban would be particularly devastating for small businesses.
“Of the 3 281 affected retail liquor outlets, approximately 15 percent are black-owned and 16 400 of directly affected employees are black females. On average, five employees excluding service providers employees (merchandisers, security workers, cleaners) per outlet are at real risk of losing jobs, with devastating consequences. The loss of income is colossal, and many may never recover from such restrictions, more so when considering that they are still to restore their viability levels, which have been affected by previous lockdown restrictions on the sale of liquor,” it said.